Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season in Austin

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The next month is a guaranteed frenzy of holiday parties, epic meals, buying, spending, and gifting galore. The annual Thanksgiving feast is followed by the annual shopping circus that is Black Friday, which is typically followed by company holiday parties, friend holiday parties, New Year’s Eve parties, etc.

In the midst of the tinsel and credit card charges it can be easy to to miss the real meaning of the holidays, giving back to those in need and supporting your local community. 23.6% of Austin residents live below the poverty level, with over 27% of them being children, and many of them will not have the means or opportunities to have a warm hot meal on Thanksgiving or sufficient items for the approaching cold weather.

If you would like to get involved in some very worthwhile, fulfilling volunteer efforts this holiday season, here are a number of ways you can make a difference in Austin. We encourage you to also leave comments with additional opportunities and ways to give back in Austin.

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Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels distributes almost 3,000 meals a day to homebound older adults and people with disabilities in Texas. Receiving a special meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as a visit, can make the day extra special for many people.  You can donate online right here. Just $25 can give someone 10 meals and other services. You can also purchase needed items such as blankets, toothbrushes, socks, etc. and deliver the items on December 13th. More information can be found here!

Toys for Tots

One of the greatest joys in life is making a child smile, and what better way to do in than giving a child in need a shiny new toy? Toys for Tots collects toys from pick-up sites all over the city to be delivered by Santa on Christmas morning. You can contribute by taking toys to a local drop-off site, donate money for toys , or volunteer your time in the form of assisting in the storage and transportation of toys.

Create a Homeless Care Package

We sit in traffic for hours every day and often encounter homeless citizens collecting change on the side of the highway. A simple way to give back is to create a Homeless Care Package. You can create packages to keep in your car to be handed out on the spot, or deliver them to local shelters. Good ideas for the packages include warm socks, mittens, toothbrush, toothpaste, bottles of water, Chapstick, lightweight snacks including granola bars, trail mixes, or gift cards to H-E-B or Walmart. Find more ideas for your care package here.

El Buen Samaritano

El Buen Samaritano is preparing to host their Annual Hands for Hope Thanksgiving Event this coming Thursday. The event gathers traditional Thanksgiving foods and distributes them to families in need in the Austin community. You can help by volunteering your time at their Food Pantry in the assembly and distribution of the meals. Online, you can purchase feathers and gift a turkey, three feathers is only $30 and provides an entire Thanksgiving meal for a family. Find more information or donate here!

Thunder Cloud Subs Turkey Trot

This Thanksgiving day, our local sandwich shop Thunder Cloud Subs is hosting the annual Turkey Trot, a 5-mile family fun run in which all proceeds go to Caritas. This non profit is devoted to aiding in housing assistance and services for the homeless, working poor, and documented refugees. You can sign up to run the race here. Not a runner? You can donate in the name of Fundraising Teams here or volunteer your time here.

H-E-B Feast of Sharing

The Palmer Event Center will be open this Thanksgiving for the H-E-B Feast of Sharing, a holiday dinner which will serve over 25,000 meals to families in need. Volunteers are needed for multiple stations and for shifts from 3:00-6:30 pm and 6:00-9:00 pm. Sign up here!

Operation Turkey

Started in 2000, the idea behind Operation Turkey began with founder Richard Botangas delivering leftovers from his own Thanksgiving meal to people on 6th street. Today, Operation Turkey operates at a much larger scale, mobilizing hundreds of volunteers to prepare and distribute beautiful Thanksgiving meals to the homeless. You can donate your time by helping in the cooking or distribution of meals here, or donate money towards the meals here.

Coats for Kids

Even though we live in Texas, the weather is dipping down and winter is quickly approaching. Coats for Kids donates over 35,000 coats annually to Central Texas kids in need. The community coat drive is going on from November 17th – December 10th, and you can drop off a coat at any Jack Brown cleaners. You can donate here or volunteer for the cause here.

Austin Pets Alive

Let’s not forget about our furry friends on this holiday season! In order to maintain Austin as a no kill animal zone, Austin Pets Alive depends on your donations to care for and re-adopt abandoned pets. You can donate much needed items to their wish list (including kitty litter, kitten food, hand santizer, blankets, and more), sponsor a pet here, or volunteer your time.

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We encourage you to leave comments with additional opportunities and ways to give back!

- Contributed by Page Jensen-Slattengren

SoMo brings The Wide Awake Tour to Emo’s 11/25

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It’s crazy how the music industry has rapidly evolved since the invention of the internet. Artists can be discovered by millions of people within a day’s time, letting the masses truly decide on who the next big name is going to be. SoMo, aka Joseph Anthony Somers-Morales from Denison, Texas, is one such artist whose popularity skyrocketed upon uploading his original music and popular cover songs to YouTube in 2011.

SoMo started his music career strangely. The football player turned musician never thought he would play music for a living until his mother gave him a piano. He started playing like many others do, practicing songs written by his favorite musicians. Everything changed when SoMo decided to post his recordings online. He recorded a cover of Chris Brown’s “Crawl” and it immediately went viral. A second cover of Drake’s “Take Care” did the same, with over 4 million views.

SoMo then signed a recording contract with Republic Records, and released his self-titled debut album in April of 2014. The R&B singer is currently touring in support of the album, and will coming to Austin for a show at Emo’s TOMORROW (11/25) with the always cool Francesco Yates! For more info and a chance to win free tickets, head to Do512.

Here’s Where You Can Find Fried Turkey in Austin

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Let’s be real, cooking a turkey is hard work. You’ve got to go out and buy the thing, prep it, and cook it for what feels like an unreasonably long time. It’s an American tradition, but it’s also kind of a hassle.

Given that Thanksgiving is a time when we would all like to be doing the opposite of expending energy, sometimes it’s best to just go out and have someone else hook up your precious holiday bird. With that in mind, here’s a list of some places in Austin where you can get a fried turkey, stress-free.

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Hoover’s Cooking

(512) 479-5006
2002 Manor Road, 78722

Hyde Park Bar & Grill

(512) 458-3168,
4206 Duval St, 78751

Lucy’s Fried Chicken

(512) 297-2423
2218 College Ave, 78704

Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill

(512) 236-9599
303 Red River Street, 78701

Fatboy Fried Turkeys

(512) 512-699-5687
11906 Hornsby St, 78753

Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q

(512) 418-9898,
11570 Research Blvd, 78759

Popeye’s

(512) 837-3612
9815 N Lamar Blvd, 78753

St. Roch’s Bar

(512) 777-4441
515 Pedernales St, 78702

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Know of a good place to get Fried Turkey in Austin that isn’t included here? Leave a comment to let us know! While we’re on the subject, why not take a look at our list of restaurants open on Thanksgiving?

Andrew McMahon In The Wildnerness | Emo’s 11/24

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You’ve heard Andrew McMahon before, but not like this. Best known as lead vocalist, pianist and primary songwriter for Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate, McMahon is now touring in support of  the self-titled debut album released under his solo banner, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness. He’s bringing the show to Emo’s on Monday, November 24th with Fences and Junior Prom.

We’re convinced that Andrew McMahon could release music under any alias and fans would flock to hear it. After releasing three albums as Jack’s Mannequin he needed a change of pace, and that’s when Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness came to be. During a recent interview with Billboard, the singer/song writer expressed that “there were a lot of signs in the making of the last Jack’s record that told me it was time to move on.”

With a new child on the way it was time to enter a new chapter of his life, and in fact his newborn daughter, Cecilia, inspired this album’s hit track “Cecilia and the Satellite”.

Joining him at Emo’s will be the Seattle-based indie rock project, Fences, headed by Christopher Mansfield. In early 2011, Fences toured with Against Me! and later that year toured with Hellogoodbye. Recently collaborating with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on “Otherside” (Remix), Mansfield also co-wrote “10,000 Hours” from Macklemore’s album, The Heist, along with the vocals of bassist band mate, Lindsey Starr.

Brooklyn-based duo, Junior Prom will also be opening on Monday night, after recently releasing their debut EP, “JUNIOR PROM” (Elektra Records) in February. Be sure to check out their latest song, “Cheap Thrills” and catch these guys at Emo’s, Monday November 24th!

Get your tickets now before they sell out! For more information and the chance to win a pair of tickets, visit Do512!

Alamo Drafthouse presents: The Films of 1999

In 1999, dial-up internet was all the rage, Napster was changing the music industry, and Y2K was the biggest threat in the world. The turn of the millennium was also a great year for film. The Matrix, Office Space, The Blair Witch Project, and Being John Malkovich, just name a few.

The Drafthouse is currently paying homage to the films of 1999, with a 12-film lineup for “The Films of 1999″ that are each being screened on 35mm. Here’s a look at the programming schedule:

BEING JOHN MALKOVICH - November 10, Ritz

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT - November 13, South Lamar

RUN LOLA RUN - November 17, Ritz

SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT - November 18, South Lamar

EYES WIDE SHUT - November 24, Ritz

BRINGING OUT THE DEAD - November 25, South Lamar

MAGNOLIA - December 1, Ritz

THE BEST MAN – December 4, South Lamar

THE LIMEY – December 8, Ritz

THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY – December 11, South Lamar

THE INSIDER – December 15, South Lamar

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY – December 18, South Lamar

Up next is Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, screening at The Ritz on Monday, November 24. Eyes Wide Shut was the final film Kubrick’s legendary career, which lasted nearly 50 years and gave us Spartacus (1960), Dr. Strangelove (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Shining (1980), and Full Metal Jacket (1987). Throughout these award-winning films he produced images that will be stuck in our heads forever, and ever, and ever.

Eyes Wide Shut is not a movie about likable, easily understood characters or conventional situations. Instead Kubrick and co-screenwriter Frederic Raphael designed the film as a tour of an emotionally barren Wonderland where people have chic-sounding names like Nightingale and Domino, where first impressions are almost always wrong, and unpleasant realities are tucked away inside glittering facades.

Tickets are only $10 for this screening at The Ritz on 11/24, and seats are filling up quick! Head to Do512 for everything you need to know about “The Films of 1999“. The series will continue through December 18. Click here to stay up to date on all things Alamo.